Understanding Osteoarthritis

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, otherwise known as “degenerative joint disease”, is one of the most common forms of arthritis with more than 20 million American sufferers to date.

While most people that suffer from the most severe forms of Osteoarthritis are age 60 or higher, it is a “degenerative” disease, therefore its effects to our bodies happen over a span of a lifetime. People as young as 25 can experience painful osteoarthritis.

The word “Osteoarthritis” is derived from two words standing for joint and inflammation. So it’s easy to see how this disease operates within the human body.

At each point where our bodies have the ability to bend, the joints, our bones come together divided by small areas that are made up of cartilage. The cartilage acts as a connection point between our bones providing us with a wider range of motion that would not be possible without it. We could not walk, bend, sit, or twist. We would be pretty much motionless without the ever important cartilage.

As we age, our cartilage becomes weakened since it is in a state of perpetual use day after day. And, the weaker it becomes, the more prone our “meeting place” bones are to begin rubbing as we bend our arms or legs causing more and more pain.

The breakdown of our cartilage can cause the joint area to change its original shape. When this happens, tiny deposits of bone can form throughout the edges of the joint. These are medically classified as “osteophytes”, but you may know them better as “bone spurs”.

In addition, small bits of cartilage or bone can break off inside the joints and float about often times causing even more damage, and of course more pain.

Wherever we can pivot our bodies, we can develop Osteoarthritis. Hands, knees, hips, and the spine are the most common places this disease occurs. Osteoarthritis affects the joint areas making it painful when performing many simply, daily tasks such as standing, sitting, shaking hands, or walking.

Risk Factors:
Over 60 years old.
Previous joint injury.
Continued joint use in a job or sport that depends on the joints, for example, football player or warehouse worker.

Grinding or cracking sounds in fingers, hands, knees or hips.
Burning sensations in joints.
Stiffness or soreness in joints after being in a stationary position.
Swelling or tenderness in joints.

What you can do to help:
Get regular exercise.
Lose weight.
Get adequate rest.
Take over the counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Apply a topical cream that co